Category Archives: Online inspiration

Creamed Spinach

The other day I attended an ‘itara’ – it is one of those celebrations that lead up to a wedding, where the bride’s family go to see where the bride will be married i.e the groom’s parents’ home. The catering was so on point and for the first time ever I got to taste real creamed spinach. Creamed spinach is a dish many hotel claim to serve but I can guarantee you, it’s just a rip off, just ordinary cooked spinach if you ask me.

Anyway, after the wonderful experience, I got inspired to find out how to make it. As usual I searched for a recipe online and was pleased to discover that one of my favourite food bloggers Ree of The Pioneer Woman has one. Ree is such a funny writer and I always enjoy reading her recipes.

This recipe may look a bit complicated but I guarantee that it’s foolproof šŸ™‚ I sorta halved her recipe since I was just cooking for hubby and I. If you are planning to cook for more people I suggest you follow her quantities.

the cast of characters
the cast of characters

Ingredients:

For the cream sauce

Butter about 50 gms

3 tablespoons plain flour

1 small onion finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic finely minced

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch of nutmeg

For the spinach

Spinach – enough for 4 people (hard to say quantity, I bought 3 bunches for Kshs. 10 each)

2 tablespoons butter

In a sauce pan start by making the white sauce. Melt the butter, do this on low heat.

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Sprinkle over the plain flour and start whisking, I don’t have a whisk so I just used my handy dandy wooden spoon.

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Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently till golden brown.

Add the onions and garlic.

DSCN1291Stir together and cook for another minute.

DSCN1292Finally add the milk whilst whisking.

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Cook the sauce for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. It will start to thicken

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Now, saute the spinach. Here I got hubby to assist with both the sauteeing and the photography šŸ™‚

In another sufuria, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. You may be required to add in the spinach in batches. Luckily my sufuria was large enough so it sufficed.

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Add the spinach.

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How deceptive the spinach is, it fills up the sufuria only to wilt and reduce in after a few minutes of cooking. Ensure not to overcook the spinach, it should still have a crunch to it.

After
After

 

Back to the sauce, at this point, I got a bit worried cause mine had really thicken, nothing like Ree’s , don’t fret though. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add the pinch of nutmeg.

things are THICK
things are THICK

Now spoon over the sauteed spinach stirring it in gently.

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The thickness of my sauce didn’t mess up the outcome. Such a relief.

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In case you find it a bit too creamy for your liking add more sauteed spinach.

Serve immediately.

DSCN1311Wow!!! Someone say AMAZING!!!\

I dare you, try this creamed spinach recipe and for sure you won’t regret it.

Thanks Ree.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Oatmeal Cookies!

I’m that kind of person who gets inspiration from just anything. The other day as I was doing some shopping in the supermarket, I saw a packet of oats and there and then I knew I wanted to buy some.

The oats I used
The oats I used

 

Disclaimer: Prior to this, I had never had oatmeal cookies and the only oats I’d ever Ā tasted were part of my breakfast cereal.

Now to the recipe, since I was venturing into the unknown and we all know that Google is your friend, I researched on a recipe and settled on this oneĀ with some few tweaks.

Ingredients:

3 eggs well beated – I only had two

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup mixed peel – my own addition

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup margarine

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups oatmeal

For the desired best results start by combining the eggs, raisins, mixed peel and vanilla essence and let it stand for one hour.

The eggs and raisins
The eggs and raisins

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One hour later…

Cream the margarine and sugar.

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Add the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and mix well.

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after mixing well
after mixing well

Blend in the eggs raisin mixture and oatmeal and mix well.

the egg, raisin, mixed peel mixture
the egg, raisin, mixed peel mixture
the oats
the oats

The dough will be stiff. Don’t be alarmed. Roll them into balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly.

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Bake at 350Ā°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly browned.

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I used only half the dough. The rest I wrapped in some cling film then put it in the freezer. For the frozen cookie dough, always remove it about an hour before using to allow it to thaw.

crunchy
crunchy

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Very delicious and crunchy, a favourite of hubby’s.

Variations: You can also add desiccated coconut or chocolate chips.

 

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Cake

I love baking!!! Ā That said, I was a bit scared of baking a red velvet anything but over this past weekend I decided to face my fears. I googled several recipes and decided on a mixture of some.

Ingredients:

For the cake;

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon strawberry red food colour

1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting;

Puratos – non dairy whipping cream used here

Sprinkles

Strawberries

The cast of characters
The cast of characters

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Then set aside.

In a small bowl mix the cocoa powder and the food colouring and set aside.

Using a wooden spoon or a mixer beat margarine and sugar in a bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time.

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Beat in the vanilla essence and the cocoa and food colour mixture.

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Add a third of the flour mixture, then beat in half of the buttermilk.

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Beat in another third of the flour and the second half of the buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture.

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In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda, it will fizz. Add the vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine.

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Pre heat the oven, 370Ā°F.

Line your cupcake tin with some muffin liners.

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Fill about 3/4 way.

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The recipe said to bake for 20-22 minutes but mine took about 15 minutes to bake.

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For the remaining batter I decided to bake a cake.

The cake, sliced in half.
The cake, sliced in half.

For the frosting, nothing fancy since it was just for our consumption.

Spread some whipping on one half and sprinkle some diced strawberries.

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Layer the other half and cover with the remaining whipping cream.

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For the cupcakes, I just dipped them in the frosting then sprinkled over some sprinkles šŸ™‚

Done
Done

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I would like to mention that normally the frosting on red velvet cakes or cupcakes is cream cheese frosting not whipping cream. I didn’t have any cream cheese and honestly I’m still scared of making some O-o plus have you seen the cost of cream cheese? Jeeze!!

The cake is/was delicious.

Thoughts?

Homemade Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? You there, put your hand down. Anyway, this is a recipe I found on you tube and I thought it would come in handy especially for guys who love baking with chocolate. You can also eat the chocolate.

The recipe is pretty easy and takes a short while to do well not taking into account the time need to freeze the chocolate.

Ingredients:

125 g vegetable shortening also known as vegetable fat

125 g confectioner’s sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 tablespoons powdered milk (full cream)

powered milk, confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder
powered milk, confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder

Start by sifting all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

sifted dry ingredients
sifted dry ingredients

Over low heat, gently melt the vegetable shortening.

vegetable shortening melting
vegetable shortening melting

Pour the melted vegetable shortening over the dry ingredients.

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Stir it up.

Drip drip
Drip drip

Finally line a Ā baking tray with grease proof paper then pour the chocolate and put it in the freezer to set.

As usual, forgot to take the ends pictures. Sorry. Anyway, once the chocolate is set, you can munch away. To make it even more exciting, before putting it in the freezer you can add some chopped nuts either peanuts or cashews or hazelnuts to the chocolate then freeze. For the some fruits you can add dried sultanas or raisins.

Look out for the next post, and see how I used my chocolate in the frosting of a black forest cake.

Shepherd’s Pie

I saw a tweet that led me to this you tube video. You have to admit this is quite a nice idea for a cook show. Anyway, me being me, I just had to try the recipe and the beautiful thing is that I had all the ingredients on hand.

As Peter Nduati (C.E.O, Resolution Health E.A) demonstrated the meal is pretty easy to put together and I think you can never go wrong when baking. I used his recipe with a few tweaks here and there.

Ingredients:

potatoes, onions, peas, minced meat and carrots

For the meat filling

1/2 kg minced meat

1 cup pre-boiled peas

4 carrots chopped

1 onion chopped

1 tomato cubed

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 cup water/beef stock/chicken stock

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt to taste

For the mashed potatoes

Handful of potatoes, peeled,washed and halved

Water for boiling

2 bay leaves

Salt to taste

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp butter

Start by boiling the potatoes.

In a sufuria, place all the potatoes, fill it with just enough water to make them cook. Add the salt and bay leaves and cover.

Ā bay leaves floating by

Now for the minced meat filling.

In a skillet, heat some oil then fry your onions.

After the onions are slightly cooked add in the minced meat.

Season with the garam masala. Let the meat brown and cook for about 15 minutes. Then add your tomatoes.

after the tomatoes have cooked down.

Add the carrots and let them cook. At this point you can add the water/broth.

Let the meal simmer till the fluid has been greatly reduced then add the peas.

colourful

Now back to the potatoes. Drain them in a colander, remove the bay leaves and discard. Sprinkle over the turmeric powder and add the butter. Mash to your heart’s content. Taste to check if the salt is enough.

A dash of orange- turmeric powder

Now, we are ready to assemble the dish.

Rub an oven friendly casseroleĀ dishĀ with some butter.

buttered dish

Put one layer of the mashed potatoes as the base.

layer one

Then line the mince meat filling.

layer two

Finally top off with the remaining mashed potatoes. I have put quite a lot of the mashed potatoes on the base that the remainder wasn’t enough to completely cover the top.

Finally, grate some cheddar cheese on the top.

ready for baking

Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 F for 15 minutes.

done!

As per Peter’s recipe, there was a white sauce which i didn’t make since I didn’t have white onions. I had however made some kachumbari which I served with.

Verdict:

Delicious. Hubby loved it and so did our guest Ben.

Drop Scones for Dinner

My friend Kui asked me if I knew how to prepare drop scones, at first I told her no but after researching I realised one just uses the basic pancake batter. The difference is in the size. You use a spoon to drop the batter into the pan and voila drop scones.

During my research, I landed on a you tube video that even had serving suggestions. The chef made some caremelised pineapples to serve with the drop scones. I just had to try out the recipe. So on our way home I tell hubby that we’ll have pancakes for dinner and surprise surprise he is ok with it. Well before you go to think I was going to make pancakes without a back up plan you are mistaken. I knew I had some leftover food in the fridge so in case he wasn’t full I’d re heat that.

For the drop scones, I used my basic pancake recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

zest of one lemon

1 cup water (The batter should be a bit thick)

Oil for frying

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Then add in the eggs.

Add the eggs to the flour, sugar and baking powder mixture

Add the vanilla essence, lemon zest and the water.

sorry about the shadow

So now, heat your skillet and prepare to cook the drop scones.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter and drop/pour over the heated oil in the skillet.

Drop! Drop!

For theĀ caramelisedĀ pineapples you’ll need:

Pineapple chunks

11/2 tablespoons sugar

A pinch of cinnamon

1 cup pineapples chunks

In a pan over low heat,Ā caramelizeĀ the sugar.

Sugar in the pan

So don’t do what I did and burn the caramel, the pineapples will have a sort of burned taste like mine did :-(.

Sprinkle some cinnamon over the caramel and add the pineapples.

Caramelising

Stir the pineapples to ensure all are coated with the caramel.

All coated šŸ™‚

Everything is set. Plate the drop scones add the pineapples and drizzle some of the caramel over the pancakes. We also drizzled them with some honey.

Dinner is served šŸ™‚

Drop scones

So, I take the dinner to hubby and again I mention that there’s food in the fridge in case he feels he won’t be satisfied.

Great thing, he didn’t ask for the food. He loved the meal. Yippee!!

Indian Chicken Curry

I love chicken, so I’m always on the look out for easy chicken recipes. I decided to search online for some curry recipes, boy did I find many. I eventually settled on one that had easy to get ingredients. Armed with a shopping list I was ready to embark on this new journey of curries.

Upon reaching home I realised I missed some ‘minor’ ingredients (garlic,lemon juice) but that didn’t stop me. The great thing about cooking is even if you miss some ingredients you can still cook. This being chicken curry, then it’s safe to say the must have ingredient is chicken then again you canĀ substituteĀ it for fish. To eat is your own.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
salt and pepper to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into chunks
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup plain yoghurt
3/4 cup coconut milk

In a skillet heat theĀ vegetableĀ oil, then saute the onions.

Sizzle sizzle

Once the onions are tender, stir in the ginger, curry powder, paprika, cinnamon, sugar, salt andĀ pepper.

Stir for about 2 minutes

Add the chicken, yoghurt, tomato paste and coconut milk.

Stir in all the ingredients
The mixture

Bring the curry to a quick boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

The curry thickens after the simmering.

Serve over steamed rice or if you want to go all Indian serve over naan bread.

Tip: As a garnish, just before serving the curry, you can sprinkle some chopped dhania for extra flavour and colour.

Verdict:

Delicious!! Not to toot my own horn but I was shocked that I had cooked the meal.

The great thing with curries is that they taste even better the following day.

Treat yourself, try making this curry I guarantee you it will be a hit.